Arts Desk

If you missed any of our short Arts Desk features on the air, you can always find them right here, along with additional related content. Check out stories by WRTI arts reporters Meridee Duddleston, Susan Lewis, David Patrick Stearns, Debra Lew Harder, Kile Smith, and Maureen Malloy. Arts Desk and Arts News Submission Guidelines

Pianist Van Cliburn's international fame landed him on the popular '50s and '60s television quiz show What's My Line? as a mystery guest - not a typical scenario for most classical artists.

In the wake of his death from cancer on Feb. 27th, the music world is reminded anew that winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 did him a world of good as well as a world of harm. Yet he wasn't the only one. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns looks at the somewhat lost generation that was Cliburn's pianistic contemporaries, including Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, and Byron Janis.

PA Ballet Makes Itself At Home

Mar 11, 2013
Paul Kolnik

Pennsylvania Ballet’s latest production, A Midsummer Night's Dream, will be the first to be prepared and rehearsed in its new $17.5 million, purpose-built home on North Broad Street. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the company has also revived its ballet school and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.


Music lives in South Jersey, where WRTI's Meridee Duddleston finds jazz creating connections in the neighborhood. The “Jazz Bridge" project deepens the region’s rich jazz roots with a series of neighborhood concerts featuring the area’s great jazz musicians. At the same time, the concerts enable the non-profit Jazz Bridge to provide emergency financial support to local jazz musicians in crisis. It’s a win-win. 

The concerts, at five sites in the Philadelphia area, tackle an all-too-common problem for jazz musicians and bring live jazz to close to home.

Meridee Duddleston attended a "First Thursday"concert at the Collingswood Senior Community Center to see how it works. The evening featured the distinguished Bob Pollitt Jazz Quartet: Bob Pollitt on saxophone, Henry Miller on drums, Craig Thomas on bass. and Bill Schilling on piano.  


Emil Rhodes, Family Collection

A new biography reveals what it was like to be the first woman to enter the all-male sanctum of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston discovered the powerful combination of talent and fear.

On September 14, 1930, the headline of the Philadelphia Public Ledger read: "Solo Harpist to Be First Girl in Philadelphia Orchestra." A young Edna Phillips entered the single-sex fortress of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930 - a year after pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff called it "the finest orchestra the world has ever heard." She’d played the harp for only five years when she was hired as the first female member and principal harpist.  Her "musicalité" may have been obvious to the pioneering Leopold Stokowski, but was she ready? What was it like to be the only woman among men at a time when gender equality and workplace mores were far different from what they are today?

Author Mary Sue Welsh worked with the observant, warm, and funny Phillips on her story during Phillips’ lifetime, completing it after the first harpist’s death in 2003.  True to Phillips’ desire, it’s as much about the challenges and triumphs of her own life, as about how the Orchestra grew and responded to its conductors - particularly Leopold Stokowski. 

The New, New Young Piano Stars

Mar 6, 2013

Classical pianists just keep getting younger, and some are playing major engagements with The Philadelphia Orchestra before they're old enough to even take a legal drink.

These new young Turks are different from those of old, says The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Patrick Stearns, because they’re making their names more from their brains and hearts rather than just their fingers.

Ars Nova means “New Art,” and for over a dozen years, Ars Nova Workshop has been presenting musicians performing jazz and experimental music in Philadelphia. Susan Lewis reports on how promoting new music is in keeping with the City's rich musical history. 

Coming up on Wednesday, March 20th at 8 pm...Ars Nova Workshop presents The Billy Hart Quartet at the Philadelphia Art Alliance on Rittenhouse Square in Center City, Philadelphia.


Music lives among the flowers at Longwood Gardens in Chester County. As Susan Lewis reports, the performing arts have always had a home at this estate-turned-botanical garden, which spans over a thousand acres with woodlands, meadows, fountains, and, of course … gardens: 20 outside and 20 in its four-acre conservatory.

Coming up at Longwood Gardens: The Vienna Boys Choir on Thursday, March 7th. Organist David Schelat on Sunday, March 10th.

Let us know Where Music Lives in your community! Add your ideas in the comments section here and check out our other Where Music Lives posts.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The term "outsider art" came into use in the early 1970s from a French description for unrefined art. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the preferred term today is “self-taught,” and a single collection of such work is the focus of a new, major exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Kimmel Center Prepares For Travels In Time

Mar 4, 2013

When the first Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) ended in May of 2011, no one knew for sure if there would be a second one. But now, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the city is preparing for PIFA 2013, a journey through time, which runs from March 28th to April 27th.

Yannick's Connection With Anton Bruckner

Feb 28, 2013

On The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert - a new weekly radio series on WRTI - Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin takes to the podium to conduct a symphony by one of the composers who is closest to him.  WRTI’s Jim Cotter has more.


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